The MitraClip is a device used to repair a faulty mitral valve to prevent or reduce mitral regurgitation (where blood leaks back through the mitral valve in the heart as the valve does not close properly). It is a viable alternative for patients who are too high-risk to undergo surgery. While surgery is still superior in patients who have a low-surgical risk, results from studies suggest reduced mitral leak and improvement in clinical symptoms after successful clip implantation in the inoperable patient group.
The mitral valve is located between the two chambers on the left side of the heart which directs blood flow in one direction - from the upper chamber (left atrium) to the lower chamber (left ventricle). When this valve does not close completely, mitral valve regurgitation or backflow of blood in the left ventricle occurs. In severe cases, reduced blood flow is pumped out of the heart. This creates excessive workload on the heart leading to dilation of the heart chambers. If left untreated, it can result in heart failure. There are currently several options of treatment available for mitral valve regurgitation. These include medical treatment, surgery, or less invasive valve repair such as the mitraclip therapy.
The mitraclip therapy procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes approximately 3 to 4 hours. A catheter (long thin flexible tube) is guided through the femoral (leg) vein to reach the heart. The clip is delivered through the catheter to the region of the mitral valve. By attaching the clip to the mitral valve, the device allows the valve to close more completely, and therefore helps to restore normal blood flow through your heart. The clip is left on the mitral valve while the rest of the delivery system and the catheter are removed.
After surgery, you typically need two to three days in hospital before discharge. Tests to make sure everything is in order may include a repeat echocardiogram (which uses ultrasound waves through the chest wall to form moving images of the heart), blood tests and a chest X-ray. You may also be given blood thinners such as aspirin and or clopidogrel for six months.